A primer on Reputation Economy

Simply defined, reputation refers to how much a community trusts and values you. And, for both people and organisations, reputation is becoming a profoundly valued asset. 


You are often prompted to review your experience whenever you take an Uber or stay in an Airbnb. The driver or host collects a significant number of ratings over time, which are combined into a total rating. Other businesses use other methods, but they all employ some type of rating that provides a snapshot of a person’s reputation. If a driver, host, or vendor has a high rating, they are thought to have an excellent reputation. They are thought to have a bad reputation if their ranking is not good.

On the other hand, the increasing sophistication of product management cycles has ensured better participation of the customers and end-users by quantifying the reputation or efficiency of the involved stakeholders and resources. This creates a goldmine of reputation data which may or may not be restricted to the functionality of the associated products.

The stronger the reputation, the more likely they are to attract a large number of clients, who are prepared to pay more for a comparable product or service from someone with a less enviable reputation. After all, we all want a good product or service, and the majority of us are prepared to spend a little more to get it. Rating systems help us figure out who we can trust to perform a good job and who we shouldn’t.

Individuals who use Uber and similar services aren’t the only ones who participate. Restaurants’ reputations are assessed using websites such as Google reviews. Major corporations’ products are rated on sites like Amazon and Google. People may even rate surgeons, attorneys, and other highly trained professions on websites.

In addition, we have a consumer rating. Our Uber driver, for example, scores us on how pleasant we were as passengers, while our Airbnb host assesses us on how clean and kind we were. These ratings may subsequently impact whether or not someone else wants to offer us a vehicle service or a holiday property in the future.


Thanks to internet ratings, our professional and personal reputations are more important than ever. This is a topic on which few people disagree. The question is whether the reputation economy is beneficial or detrimental.

According to Rachel Botsman, a trust and digital-enabled economy specialist, the rising importance of reputation is an intrinsically beneficial trend. In a 2012 TED Talk, she claims that the reputation economy may provide individuals with a feeling of control over their economic situations and enable the most talented people to climb to the top.

The new currency of the digital era is reputation. Whether we like it or not, it significantly impacts our professional and personal life. In fact, the episode “Nosedive,” of the TV series Black Mirror gave a peek into what a future fueled by a technological fascination with measuring reputation would look like, where individuals assess each other based on their interactions affects their socio-economic standing.

While such a scenario is still a long way off, for the time being, most of our present worries about controlling our digital reputation concentrate on problems of data privacy or our social and online media consumption habits. 

The Internet’s exponential expansion has significantly impacted how people socialise and establish their identities. Consequently, in today’s digital era, reputation might be argued to be a resource more precious than gold. We’ve arrived at a time when a person’s or a company’s online reputation may now influence interactions in the real world.

When AI technology is applied to the aggregation of reputation, people will be assessed for a wider variety of online activities and connections, decreasing or perhaps eliminating their capacity to genuinely govern their reputation. Bad algorithms may amplify existing social biases and lead to unfair reputation ratings for traditionally underprivileged people. The social pressure to have a good rating will cause everyone to self-censor and avoid the kind of risk-taking required for creativity and human advancement. Controlling people via social pressure is a strong and subtle tactic. Freedom of expression may be compromised when societal pressure is reinforced by an unknown algorithm that is ostensibly scrutinising every digital activity. People may just be hesitant to speak out for fear of losing their job, products, or services if they do. People modify their conduct to adhere to a societal standard because they fear that their digitally monitored behaviour would harm their reputation.